Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor (vocals, various instruments).
Additional personnel includes: Richard Patrick (guitar); Chris Vrenna (drums).
Although Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor became the poster boy for industrial rock in the early 1990s, his '89 debut, PRETTY HATE MACHINE, actually has a stronger foothold in '80s synth-pop. The guitar-heavy opener, "Head Like a Hole," is the most aggressive track on the album and proved to be the signature song for Reznor's initial breakthrough, but much of the disc sounds like Depeche Mode in a particularly bad mood.
All of the tracks on PRETTY HATE MACHINE are based on synthesizer lines and programmed beats, with other elements--such as the distinctive bass on "Sanctified" and sampled explosions on "That's What I Get"--filling out the sound. Despite Reznor's morose lyrics, a number of HATE MACHINE's finest moments are energetic dance tunes, particularly "Down in It" and the surging "Sin." Oddly enough, Reznor's fiercer--and seemingly less accessible--subsequent work (the BROKEN EP and THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL) led directly to his mainstream success, but PRETTY HATE MACHINE reveals where the Nine Inch Nails aesthetic started out.
Q (3/91) - 4 Stars - Excellent "NIN scans the spectrum of modern dance...Reznor's panoramic vision is both admirably adventurous and yet accessible."
Alternative Press (7/95, p.77) - Ranked #7 in AP's list of the 'Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...fulfilled what had merely been the prophetic rumblings of industrial music....before PRETTY HATE MACHINE, [industrial had]...no real messiahs....Reznor assumed that position...with subhuman slips of the tongue and those patented screaming, 'gated' guitars..."
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.53) - "Fusing huge hooks and a colossal rhythmic punch to desolate lyrics..."